Taking Building Information Modeling to the next level

08May15

Who Will Lead Our Industry’s Data-Driven Future?

by Randy Deutsch

Working with data, still new to many firms, is a must-have skillset and mindset.

While recognizing the value of building information modeling (BIM), most still use BIM tools today for document creation, when design and construction professionals need to recognize BIM’s real value — as a database — and start treating it like one. For this to come about and to have a transformative impact on projects, firms and the profession and industry will require both top down and bottom up effort.

Liabilities and Challenges of Working With Data

Having the right people on board is critical, especially those who are predisposed or motivated to work with data and see the value in doing so. Brian Ringley, design technology platform specialist at Woods Bagot, suggests that “investment in multi-disciplinary project teams and new graduates with emergent technological specializations will be key in managing this change.”

Interest in, and appreciation for, what data can accomplish needs to be both a top down and bottom up effort. Leadership on the data front must start at both ends, and requires equal dosages of enthusiasm and understanding of how data can add value in the organization and on project work.

Learning to capture, analyze and apply data is how many of us will take BIM — beyond visualization, clash detection and coordination — to the next level.

The BIM database can be queried and mined for project data. This has implications not only for the project team who query the model for data that is going to help make decisions — but also for management and leadership, and for business development and marketing of a firm’s services based on past experience that is captured — and now mined — in the BIM.

In one specific example of data mining in BIM, consulting firm CASE has helped firms identify what content should make it into a content library. “Go and explore 50 projects that were done in BIM, then extract all the data, then do a data mining effort to understand what doors are used the most across the firm,” suggests David Fano.

Even more than the acquisition of new skillsets and technological capabilities, to reclaim their roles as leaders, architects in particular need to simultaneously account for data and information derived from their digital models, and also be able to gather, navigate and communicate this information while working collaboratively throughout the complete design and construction cycle.

Leadership in Data

Many design and construction leaders don’t know their firm’s data capabilities — the talent, the technology, processes and workflows. What will it take to enable this awareness? Will firm leaders tell their data stories the way they have been telling their collaboration and technology stories? And, most importantly, who will lead the data effort within an organization? Who, in other words, will be the glue?

There are so many individuals performing hands-on work with data in the AEC and planning space. Is there is a need for hands-off management or leadership to help connect the dots?

“I believe strongly in project-based thinking. That’s where ideas and methods are best derived, tested, refined, and executed. Abstract exercises often lack authenticity, at least with respect to real-world decision making,” says Gregory Janks of DumontJanks. “I am also leery of ‘management,’ especially when it leads to conformity, formulas, and orthodoxy. Orthodoxy can only be right for a brief moment in time, and then must have the capacity to renew itself. This is a very difficult process to manage (centrally).”

How does one describe the role of the leader of a firm’s data-centric efforts?

“A great leader of data-centric efforts, is a person who is constantly seeking out new problems, expanding their toolkit, sharing their knowledge, and advancing ideas that change the world — this last meant quite literally: that result in actual and effective change in the world,” says Janks. “Let the Darwinian forces of success then allow these techniques to aggregate into a formal body of practice.”

Read the full article here

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